Arcade Cabinet

Late last year I decided I wanted to make an arcade cabinet.

Phase 1: Evaluation

I decided that the first step of the process was to determine if this was just a passing whim or I would actually want a cabinet occupying living space. Cardboard seemed as good a place to start as any to test my actual interest before investing anything other than time.

It took several hours to gather, clean up, patch, and cut up enough cardboard to make the rough cabinet shape I wanted.

I ordered controls, and quickly got a few old games of mine (mostly projects from college) running on it when they arrived.

Phase 2: Wood Construction

The cardboard was not meant to be permanent, and it basically collapsed after a few weeks under the weight of the monitor.

I picked up three 4'x8' sheets of 3/4" plywood from a hardware store, cut to 2'x8'. It took some time to settle on a shape for the cabinet, but once I did, measuring and cutting the side panels went fairly quickly. Lots of sanding ensured that the sides generally matched.

Content with the sides, I started cutting pieces of wood for the top and bottom of the cabinet. Everything except the back is fastened with lots of screws through 1"x2" strips into the plywood from the inside. Piece by piece, I closed in the box.

In retrospect, the construction would have gone much faster if I had planned measurements for everything up front, so that I could assembly-line each step: measuring, cutting, sanding, drilling, and screwing. I figure I could make a second one off of the measurements of this in a day or two that way.

I painted everything, added wheels, mounted the controls, and added some outlets for power and a network cable. The C14 power connector was impossible to find in stores. I was able to scavenge one from a burnt-out PC power supply.

I was quite pleased with how it looked solid black, but the red plastic T-molding really made it seem more legitimate to me.

The Finished Product

With some help, I managed to get it upstairs.

I still have plenty to do, but it is finally playable.

  • I would like to add a proper coin door.
  • I want to fit it with a bigger monitor. I mean to make a frame to cover everything except the monitors display and then cover the whole thing with an acrylic sheet.
  • And once I make a proper game or two for it, I intend to pick a name for the thing and add a marquee and some graphics.

The current game list so far is just the set of games I have made that were easy enough to bring over to it as well as arcade games suggested by friends.

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